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Lin Xing Jiang v. Eric H. Holder

March 18, 2011

LIN XING JIANG, PETITIONER,
v.
ERIC H. HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, RESPONDENT.



Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals. No. A78-745-524

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rovner, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED MAY 18, 2010

Before O'CONNOR*fn1 , Associate Justice, and KANNE, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

The Board of Immigration Appeals sought to return Lin Xing Jiang to China after she arrived on U.S. soil without proper permission to enter. After her initial request for asylum was denied, and the time for filing a petition for review or a motion to reopen the proceedings had run, Jiang filed a motion to reopen the proceedings with the Board, alleging a change of circumstances in China supported her claim for relief. The Board found that the evidence she sought to offer either was available or could have been discovered or presented at the former hearing and denied the motion to reopen. Jiang petitioned this court to review the order of the Board. We affirm.

I.

Jiang, a native and citizen of China, entered St. John, United States Virgin Islands, on September 22, 2000. The Immigration and Naturalization Service, now the Depart-ment of Homeland Security, charged Jiang as being an alien present in the United States without being admitted or paroled and began removal proceedings. Jiang filed for asylum, claiming that she had been forced to abort a pregnancy by the Chinese government. On December 20, 2002, Jiang appeared before an immigration judge who concluded that her story was not credible and denied her application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. (R. 146-158). Jiang appealed the immigration judge's decision to the Board, which, on March 18, 2004, affirmed the decision without an accompanying opinion. (R. 105). The statutory ninety-day deadline for appeals passed without word from Jiang.

Over four years later, Jiang filed a motion to reopen her proceedings, claiming that she had new and material evidence not discoverable or available at her former hearing, and thus her untimely petition should be permitted under the regulatory exception to the time limits for motions to reopen based on changed country conditions, citing 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(c)(3)(ii). For the first time, Jiang argued that she feared persecution based on her Catholic religion. She also cited as new evidence the fact that since the time of the last hearing, when she was pregnant with her first child, she had given birth to two children in the United States in violation of China's family planning policies.

Jiang informed the Board that she was baptized as a Catholic soon after birth and that both she and her family have continued to practice Catholicism to this day-she in the United States, and her family in underground, unregistered churches in China. Jiang alleges that her family arranged for her to leave China for the United States so that she could continue to practice her religion and because they feared she could not adhere to China's restrictive population control policy. Jiang argued that circumstances had worsened for practicing Catholics in China, and that should the United States remove her to China, she would return to her former underground Catholic church and risk persecution. Finally, Jiang stated that although she had told her immigration lawyer that she had grown up in a Catholic family in China and was a practicing Catholic, he did not include a claim for religious persecution in her initial petition for asylum.

The Board concluded that Jiang had not submitted adequate evidence to support reopening, and that the articles and reports Jiang submitted did not show that members of underground churches were in more danger than they had been at the time of her hearing in 2002. (R. 3). The Board noted that Jiang did not specifically claim in her motion that her former counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel and, in any event, failed to meet the requirements of such a claim.

(R. 4). Finally, the Board concluded that Jiang did not submit a new asylum application as is required when filing a motion to reopen. Id at n.1. On August 5, 2009, the Board denied Jiang's motion to reopen. Id.

Jiang petitioned this court for review of the Board's decision denying the motion to reopen, a decision the Supreme Court has held we have jurisdiction to review. Kucana v. Holder, 130 S. Ct. 827, 831 (2010). Our review, however, defers to the decision of the Board unless it has abused its discretion, that is, unless it has made its decision without rational explanation, departs from established policies without explanation, or rests on an impermissible basis such as invidious discrimination. See Xiao Jun Liang v. Holder, 626 F.3d 983, 988 (7th Cir. 2010). For the reasons set forth below, we find it has not, and thus deny the petition.

II.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, an asylum seeker may collaterally attack a final order of removal by filing a motion to reopen with the Board, which, in its discretion, it may grant or deny. 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(7); 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(a). A motion to reopen based on changed country conditions is exempt from the usual ninety-day statutory deadline for filing such motions so long as the evidence of the changed conditions "is material and was not available and would not have been discovered or presented at the previous proceeding." 8 U.S.C.A. § 1229a(c)(7)(C)(ii); see also 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(c)(3)(ii); Zhao v. Gonzales, 440 F.3d 405, 407 (7th Cir. 2005).

The petitioner concedes that the evidence she presents "is technically not new evidence [but] was not available at the initial hearing because her attorney failed to present it," and that "she did not have an opportunity to present all her persecution claims." (Brief of Petitioner at 13). This argument, however, is one claiming ineffective assistance of counsel, not changed country conditions. After all, according to Jiang, she has been a practicing Catholic all of her life, and the abuse of Catholics by the Chinese government was well-documented when Jiang first appeared before the immigration court in 2002. What she argues is not that the information was not available to her at ...


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